Okay, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about my deck at this point..but I’m so so so happy it’s DONE. Yes, the timing is not ideal, but fingers crossed we get a few more months of solid weather. We had friends in town last weekend, and it was so nice to all lounge around and lay out in the sun (because the only sun I got this summer was in Greece). Much much needed chill time! PS – I’ve always dreamed of having one of these egg chairs in my outdoor space and I FINALLY got one last week. It’s overkill but kind of amazing.
Since we’re basically living on our deck every Saturday afternoon until the end of summer (at least that is our goal), I want to make sure the time we spend up there is stress free. After a few tweaks here and there, I’ve come up with a list of necessities for the ultimate deck experience.
First and foremost, you have to have the sunscreen readily available! I’ve been a skincare fanatic lately, and I refuse to sit out in the sun without applying sunscreen first…and I force it upon my guests as well! My favorite sunscreens are Neutrogena’s Beach Defense and Piz Buin (Leo introduced me to this one – it’s huge in Europe). Piz Buin’s After Sun lotion is also great!
You know those shades you get for free at random events? I always save them & stock them away in our den in case someone forgets/breaks/loses their pair. Sitting outside with no sunglasses on is borderline torture, and it’s not good to squint (it causes wrinkles!). That said, having a few extra pairs of cheap-y shades handy quickly solves this problem.
Luckily, we have a mini fridge in our den, which makes it so easy to store cold beverages near the deck! Since I’m always trying to watch my sugar intake, Spindrift sparkling water is my new favorite to have around the house – Spindrift is America’s first and only sparkling water made with real, squeezed fruit! It’s essentially like having spa water…but ready for your enjoyment in a cute little can. I mean, what’s not to like? Spindrift = sparkling water + real fruit. Yup, that’s it. My go-to flavor right now is grapefruit (there are so many to choose from), it’s so refreshing and perfect to sip on a hot day. It also pairs really nicely with a fresh piece of fruit! Here’s where you can find Spindrift near you.
Luckily, when we moved in there were already speakers connected to our deck. Being able to jam out to your fav tunes while laying out is priceless – all we do is connect our phone to our stereo system and voila…the jam sesh is on. Leo has his own mixes that he puts together, so we often listen to those (you can find his more recent ones here and here). If I’m out there alone, I’ll play my 90s hits playlist..am I aging myself?!
No, I am not a professional chef…but I that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be one. I mean, that’d be a nice little bonus right? Hi, I work in advertising, I have a life & style blog..AND oh yeah, I am a professional chef.
I always wondered how restaurants manage to cook steak perfectly EVERY TIME. It has to be chaos in those kitchens (my kitchen is chaos cooking for two – I still can’t get stuff to cook properly!), how do they keep track of how much time each steak requires?! Well, I hate to break it to you, but most restaurants don’t keep track. They have this magical device called the sous vide.
There are different variations of sous vides – ones used by large restaurants vary from those made for us wannabe chefs. I purchased a home-friendly sous vide, the Joule by ChefSteps, to see what all this hype was about (& because I wanted to make progress against my #chefgoals). The device came with a hefty price tag at $199, but curiosity inspired me to pull the trigger.
Since I can remember, my brows have been out of control. There was a point where I had an eyebrow…that’s right, eyebrow singular. Let’s just say ages 11-14 were my rough years. The photos I have from this period are frightening…to put things into perspective, my eyebrows were the least of my worries. I didn’t know how to manage my curly hair, I had a mustache (this was pre-waxing days), there was a lot going on.
I didn’t attempt cleaning up my eyebrows until 7th grade, and it was LONG overdue. They still were insanely thick, but at least I split them into two caterpillars vs. one. Baby steps. By freshman year of high school, I had discovered the miracle of eyebrow threading. I don’t know why I didn’t consider waxing initially, perhaps because waxing would not have done the job? I can’t recall, but either way, threading was the best discovery I ever made. In fact, I still do it to this day.
It’s so refreshing to be out and about the last few weeks. I’m officially out of hibernation! I even left the house without a jacket on a couple of days last week. I find it so liberating to not have to match a jacket with my outfit (#firstworldproblems)! Bottom line is, I love spring because it means warmer weather is on the way. Here in Chicago, it’s the time of year when you actually start seeing other humans that live in the city. Where were these people all winter? Likely hiding under blankets on their sofas like everyone else.
I like to put together a “bucket list” for each season (except I realized that I didn’t do one for winter, probably because the last thing I want to do is leave my house when it’s 15 degrees out – haha). Here’s what I have on my list this spring!
PS – this pic is from summer 2 years ago – I forgot how short my hair was!
I’ll be the first admit that I legit like grocery shopping. Is that weird? I don’t get to cook everyday, but I love going to the grocery store on the weekends to stock up on my go-to snacks and whatever recipes I’m making that week (really it’s “recipe”, singular, but I shoot for the stars). I also enjoy hunting for new stuff to try, and Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to do this. They’re always introducing new items to the mix – I’m like a child in a candy store when I shop their “new in” section. That and the section where they have the samples. I love samples.
I’ve been a Trader Joe’s shopper ever since I graduated college, which feels like forever ago (because it is). They’ve been popping up everywhere in the city which is amazing. Rumor has it, they’ll be opening on in Wicker Park soon – heyoooo. Cannot wait. Since I’m a long time T Joe’s shopper, there are specific things I always buy from there, on top of the experimental purchases I throw in the mix. Below are my favorite things to buy from Trader Joe’s (all of these items are Trader Joe’s exclusives). I’ve linked to the items that aren’t pictured so you can easily find them!
Confession – I LOVE snacking. I love food in general, but snacking is one of my guilty pleasures. Sometimes (well, most times), I just want to munch on a little somthin’ somthin’. Depending on what I have at arm’s length, it can be a bad situation. Knowing I have this habit of hitting up my pantry every few hours, I try to keep only healthy snacks in the house. That way, even though I feel a tad guilty about snacking, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m at least putting healthy stuff into my body. These are the healthy snacks I resort to on the reg –
Siggi’s Yogurt: I’ve tried most yogurt brands, and Siggi’s is by FAR my favorite – I even like it better than Fage (sorry, Leo). My favorite is the plain one, but I’ve tried most of their flavors and there isn’t one I don’t like. Their yogurts have less sugar than most brands on the market, and significantly more protein (even when compared to Greek yogurts). Their plain yogurt is 0% fat, and it’s still as creamy as ever. I typically eat it with honey and fresh blueberries, sometimes adding some cereal or granola for a little crunch.
I’m always on the lookout for apps that make my life easier – who isn’t?! I’m not one to download every new hot app, but I will if it provides value (I’m still used to having zero space on my phone – thankfully, I retired my 16GB iPhone 6 for the 7 plus a few months ago…hallelujah.) It’s been a while since I did a roundup of my my favorite apps, so I felt like it was time! Below are the apps I’m loving currently.
I’m all about unconventional Valentine’s Day dates…but I’m obvi always up for a nice dinner. I love food, what can I say (& spending time with Leo…sometimes). Though Leo and I have frequent dinner dates, I still look forward to our Valentine’s Day plans. There is something special about the time and thoughtfulness put into a night celebrating your relationship.
Another thing special about Valentine’s Day? How fast the restaurants book up. You don’t want to be scrambling last minute trying to find your spot – trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s less than ideal. For all my Chicagoans, I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite cozy & romantic restaurants in the city, all of which would be perfect Valentine’s Day dinner destinations.
We’ll be spending Valentine’s Day early this year due to work travel, but I’ll let you guys know where we end up! PS – here are gift ideas for him too.
When you’ve been on the hunt for home products for months, a new collaboration like this will literally make your day (I’m pretty sure it made my week). Dwell magazine just officially launched a modern line at Target, and it’s everything you could imagine & more. I’m loving every single piece from this collection. Beautiful, modern furniture at Target price points. Am I dreaming? AND…wait for it…they’re refreshing the line in the Spring & Summer.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons in this city. There’s something soothing about watching the leaves change color, getting festive with pumpkin spice & apple cider, and feeling the sensation of a cool breeze after the hot summer months. Though we’ve had our fair share of rain recently, the past few days have been absolutely perfect. Sunshine, nice breeze…couldn’t ask for anything more, except for more time to enjoy it!
I know I’ve talked about this a lot as of late, but life has been crazy the last few months. Between moving out of my place, closing on a house/remodeling, and work travel, I haven’t had time to just chill. I feel like I’m constantly going at 100 mph, and I can’t wait to slow down. I know it will all be worth it in the end, but can we just fast forward to that part?